SMTP options for sending low volume emails reliably

I host a number of websites on my droplet that need to occasionally send emails for things such as password resets or sale acknowledgements. The volumes are very low - maximum of 100 per week but often none. I have previously used a free Gmail SMTP but it now seems that without SPF and DMARC that any emails sent to the likes of gmail or outlook addresses get rejected.

I tried setting up SendGrid but the second email I tried to send failed to be delivered because the IP address used by SendGrid was blacklisted at the time. The only suggestion from support to avoid this would be to purchase a PRO service at $90 per month with a dedicated IP address rather than use the IP pool. This suggested to me that all the major volume email providers are likely to suffer the same issue which might be OK if sending lots of marketing emails where it doesn’t matter if some fail to be delivered. Whereas my requirement is very low volume but reliable delivery.

I am sure that many DigitalOcean users must have a similar requirement so has anyone found a free or low cost reliable SMTP option?

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Site Moderator
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September 14, 2023


Our new disabled-by-default SMTP policy went into effect June 22, 2022, for all new accounts. While our Security team will still be monitoring spam activity, we believe this decision will benefit our customers and the broader internet community in our shared quest to minimize spam.

Dedicated email deliverability platforms are better at handling deliverability factors like IP reputation. To send mail from DigitalOcean, we recommend using SendGrid:

Hope that this helps!

Bobby Iliev
Site Moderator
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September 4, 2023

Hi there,

In addition to what has already been mentioned I could suggest using SendGrid.

There is a 1-Click installation option for SendGrid on the DigitalOcean Marketplace as well which you can use:

Hope that this helps!



Site Moderator
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September 4, 2023


I would assume that all free SMTP providers suffer from the same issues with IPs being blacklisted as there are a lot of people that used them(since it’s a free service) for spamming.

Having said that, here are a few other solutions that I’ve used in the past and might still be a good option to try out:

  1. Mailgun:

    • Mailgun is a popular transactional email service provider.
    • They offer a “Pay As You Go” plan where you get 5,000 free emails per month for the first three months, and then a small charge per email afterwards.
    • They provide good deliverability, and their setup process guides you through setting up SPF and DKIM records to improve deliverability.
  2. Mailjet:

    • Mailjet offers a free tier that includes 6,000 emails per month (with a limit of 200 emails per day).
    • They also guide you through setting up SPF, DKIM, and DMARC records.
  3. Postmark:

    • While they don’t offer a free tier, they are known for excellent deliverability for transactional emails.
    • Their pricing starts at $10/month for 10,000 emails.

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